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Game 22 Open Thread: April 27, 2006

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couple of stray thoughts from yesterday's game:

encarnacion retained the selectivity at the plate that helped him go 3-for-4 on tuesday. batting in the first with two on and one out, he got a first-pitch fastball over the outer half and, appropriately, took a hack; fouled it off, but fastballs are what we want this guy swinging at, especially in rbi situations. he took a second fastball, borderline outside, hoping to get the call (but didn't); behind 0-2, he maintained his discipline, fouled off a couple of fastballs and one breaking pitch to extend the at-bat. he worked the count back to 2-2 before finally striking out on a heater up and in.

the same pattern held throughout all four ABs -- juan'cion laid off the breaking balls and the pitches off the plate, cut exclusively on fastballs in the strike zone. that's half the battle -- pitch recognition. the other half, execution, is where juan broke down yesterday; he got his pitches, just did nothing with them. but then, that's why he's juan encarnacion and not vlad guerrero. if we all agree that, at this point, we would be thrilled to have the guy simply lift his game to career-average levels, then yesterday's at-bats were encouraging; if he maintains that approach, he'll get his 15 dingers and his 80 rbis.

isringhausen: his fastball had life, and he located it well but for the one pitch; what happened yesterday bears no relation to the pitch-by-pitch struggles he endured two weeks ago. the 3 april homers allowed are a full season's worth for is'hausen; hitters are slugging .563 against him this year, undeniably concerning. i still think he's going to work things out and get himself where he needs to be when it matters.

mulder: saw about half of his innings, and i think he's a) throwing a bit harder this year, and b) working in more curveballs. nothing to back that up, just my sense. those considerations aside, the outing was vintage 2005 -- 5 walks, runners all over the bases, but four double plays and a 16-6 groundout/flyout spread. if he doesn't pitch any better than that, they better not throw a $50 million extension at him.

tonight's opposing starter, emergency callup mike o'connor, is only the 5th major-league baseball player ever to have come out of George Washington University (according to Federal Baseball). he was a pretty high draft pick (7th round) and has pitched well at every stop, but for some reason the organization hasn't moved him along; he struck out more than 10 men per 9 innings in the lower classifications with good era's, yet still didn't reach high-a ball until age 24, and then -- despite a good year -- was asked to repeat it last year at age 25. he has only thrown 18.2 innings above that level -- in triple a this spring, where he has no record and a 2.41 era, with 20 strikeouts. something tells me he's gonna be troublesome.

it's the second time this year ponson has opposed a hurler making his big-league debut; he also faced the cubs' sean marshall back on april 9.

ponson o'connor
2-0, 3.31 0-0, 0.00